Report

Yemen’s President Hadi Yields to Houthi Demands But Gunmen Remain

Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has conceded to the demands of Houthi fighters, though gunmen remain positioned outside the president’s house and palace.

YEMEN-CONFLICT-POLITICS
A Shiite Huthi militiaman sits near a tank confiscated from the army in the area around the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa, on January 22, 2015. Shiite militiamen maintained a tight grip on Yemen's capital today with fighters deployed around the presidential palace despite a deal to end what authorities termed a coup attempt. President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's abducted chief of staff remained in the hands of the Huthi militia, which seized control of most of Sanaa in September after sweeping south from its stronghold in the northern highlands. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has conceded to the demands of Houthi fighters, who overran the capital of Sanaa, seized the presidential palace, and surrounded the president’s home. Hadi expressed willingness to accept a power sharing deal with the Houthis and to amend a draft constitution opposed by the rebel group. In exchange, the Houthi fighters agreed to withdraw from areas around the palace, the president’s and prime minister’s homes, and a military base. They additionally agreed to release Hadi’s chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, whom they abducted Saturday. However, on Thursday afternoon, over 14 hours after the deal was struck, Houthi gunmen remained positioned outside the president’s house and palace, and the chief of staff had not been released. Houthi official Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said, “The agreement is satisfactory” though he noted it might take the fighters several days to withdraw.

Syria-Iraq

Senior officials from 21 countries are meeting Thursday in London to discuss efforts to fight Islamic State militants. The conference, which is co-hosted by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, is expected to focus on ways to stem the flow of foreign fighters and cut off funding to the Islamic State group. Prior to the meeting, Hammond said it could take a year or two for the U.S.-led coalition to push the Islamic State militants out of Iraq and he noted Iraqi troops were not yet ready or equipped to launch an offensive. Meanwhile, Japan is exploring avenues to secure the release of two hostages held by Islamic State militants. However, Japanese officials said they have failed so far to make contact with those holding the men.

Headlines

  • U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress deepening a rift with the Obama administration over Iran sanctions.
  • Libya’s Tripoli-based parliament has pulled out of U.N.-backed talks accusing troops allied with the Tobruk-based government of storming the central bank in Benghazi.
  • Egypt’s highest appeals court has ordered the retrial of four policemen linked to the deaths of 37 people in Aug. 2013 following the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

Arguments and Analysis

Debunking three dangerous myths about the conflict in Libya’ (Brian McQuinn, The Conversation)

“The political parties in Libya function in a similar way. They rely on consensus-based decision making among relative equals. The Tripoli-based coalition (sometimes called the Libya Dawn) is in fact a temporary alliance between dozens of political factions and hundreds of military units, each with its own identity and interests. It only decided to join the UN mediation efforts after days of group consultations and side discussions.

The Tobruk-based government is no different. There is an alliance of convenience between its political and military factions but the two have competing interests at times. And even within the military forces there are further divisions. What is often described as the Libyan National Army, is better understood as a coalition of local federalist-leaning militias, tribal-oriented confederations, disaffected military units, Zintani revolutionary battalions and Qaddafi-era military personnel.

Neither ‘side’ in the conflict should be seen as a cohesive bloc, even though it is in the interest of these coalition leaders to portray themselves as unified groups.”

Bahrain: ‘Insulting a Public Institution’ Means Prison’ (Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations)

“Rajab’s tweet was in part a response to a Global Voices article that noted a tweet by a Sunni Muslim military officer Mohamed Albinali saying ‘I Mohamed Isa Albinali, a lieutenant in Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior declare my defection from this regime since over four months.’ More broadly, one recent HuffPo article stated that ‘members of the state security apparatus have expressed sympathy with Daesh and other Sunni extremist groups.’ An analysis last fall noted that ‘books printed and distributed by the Bahraini Army itself have promoted the takfiri thought that underpins IS and other extremist groups.’

Presumably, if the authors of those last two pieces were in Bahrain they too would be arrested for ‘insulting a public institution.’ The Bahraini royal family is pursuing a path that cannot lead anywhere good. Not only is the government narrowing the rights of Bahraini citizens, it is watching as Bahraini Sunnis become radicalized and attracted by violent Islamist groups. The royal family’s dangerous game, which is to deepen the fissures among Bahrainis along Sunni vs. Shi’a lines, lends itself to Sunni extremists–whom the government does too little to combat.”

Egypt’s Long Walk to Despotism’ (Amro Ali, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy)

“In Egypt, the citizen plays a role in reinforcing the repressive status quo – from a middle-aged woman reporting innocent journalists to the police to a sycophantic lawyer suing an actor who deviated from the state line. The fertile ground of suspicion enables the creation of legislation on a community police that would allow citizens the power to arrest each other and is also manifest in the many citizen’s names and photos posted on Facebook, who are tarnished with labels like ‘terrorist’ and ‘foreign agent.’ An old Egyptian proverb says, ‘Oh Pharaoh, who turned you into a tyrant?’ ‘No one stopped me,’ he replied.”

Mary Casey-Baker

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

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